Five startup founders and Runway East members from our Moorgate and Shoreditch locations sat down to give us their top tips for hiring for startups, from the limitations of interviews to a brain teaser about gold bars. 


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Peter Nixey, CEO of Copyin, which turns your team’s email into your team’s knowledge base. 

Top tips for hiring for startups:

Work with them. Interviews can disqualify people but they can never qualify people. Ask someone to spend several days working with you before you hire them. Pay them pro-rata for this time and then just do the actual work you’d be doing with them. Giving them the chance to work with you helps you try them out for size but also lets them try you out for size which is equally important.

Favourite question to ask at interview:

“What’s the hardest thing you’ve chosen to do and completed in life?”

I want to see that they’ve chosen to do something really challenging in life and then followed it through and completed it. This is a good way to discover a) what they actually rank as being challenging in their mind b) whether they’re finishers and c) how hard they push themselves.



Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 13.09.52Nishul Saperia, Founder of Beachfix, the ultimate beach search and recommendation site:

Top tips for hiring for startups:
Don’t over-pitch a startup – too many entrepreneurs talk only about how amazing their company is!  Pitch the good – but show you know what the risks are.

Understand them.  What matters to them beyond money?  Can you offer this?

Finally – ask them to do something.  My last hire was a marketer who before the second interview came back with eight pages of ideas.  It showed what he was about and how hungry he was to join!

Favourite question to ask at interview:
“8 gold bars, one is very slightly too light. In two weighings on weighing scales find which one. Think out loud.” **

It’s challenging but not impossible and you can see problem solving ability and through that persistence, willingness to test unlikely solutions and the ability to recognise when a solution doesn’t work and start again.  Startups are all about solving problems.



feature_article_image54Misha Gopaul, Founder at FATMAP, replacing paper ski maps with the most advanced 3D ski maps known to nature. 

Top tips for hiring developers:
Set a relevant technical challenge pre-interview that preferably requires some coding to solve.  Guarantee an interview for anyone who completes it.  As well as demonstrating a level of technical proficiency, it helps to identify people who enjoy the work they would be doing at the company over those focus on money and other aspects of the job.

Favourite question to ask at interview:
“What do you think of our company/product and what improvements would you make?”

It shows how the person has thought about their role against the wider perspective of what the company does, the value to our users, the market and longer term strategy.

Any role should simply be a means to better achieve a company’s wider aims, not an end in itself.  In my experience, people who think in this way often make the biggest contributions.



dylan350Dylan Bourguignon, CEO of So-Sure, revolutionising insurance with better and up to 80% cheaper insurance, starting with mobile phones.

Top tip for hiring for startups:

As a non-technical founder, the hardest hire is the Lead Developer. You need someone who can decide on the technical solution, code and have the experience to manage a team as you grow. The most valuable piece of advice given to me was to get a Technical Advisor: they not only educated me on the different technical possible solutions but also were great support in evaluating the candidates for the role.

Favourite question to ask at interview:
“You are clearly doing well in your present role, what do you want to get out of your next role?”

This is a genuine question. The focus is to understand whether there is a match between the candidate’s aspirations and the role on offer. There is no point force-fitting the candidate into the role even if they love the company – it just leads to disappointment in the long run.


**correct answer:

1st move. You weigh 3vs3 first time, leaving two bars out

2nd move. If the 3vs3 were equal, you weigh the two bars you left out – one is lighter, so you’ve found the bar. If the 3vs3 found one side was lighter, you take those three bars and then weight 2 of them against each other. If both the same, it’s the bar you left out. If one is lighter – it’s that one.


Founders featured in our ‘Hiring for Startups’ article work from our 200 member location in Moorgate


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